AN irrigation project funded by the European Union (EU) has provided a lifeline for villagers from the dry Binga district.
By Edgar Gweshe
The Nabusenga irrigation project is part of the Integrated Food, Nutrition and Income (FNI) project, which seeks to empower villagers to increase as well as diversify the production of crops and small livestock to enhance food and nutritional security among households.
The FNI project is being implemented by the Catholic Foundation for Overseas Development, SNV Netherlands, Environment Africa and Caritas Hwange.
Villagers from Binga’s ward 23 last week told Southern Eye that the project had helped improve food and nutritional security for several
“Our area generally receives low rainfall and as a result of droughts, food insecurity is very high. Quite often we have to rely on food handouts and when the situation gets worse, people even resort to wild roots,” Vylet Ndlovu, a villager, said.
“However, this irrigation project has helped in ensuring food security for a number of households and the situation is better now as compared to the past.”
The irrigation project is focusing on maize, wheat as well as vegetables production as a way of enhancing nutritional security.
Last year, the United Nations (UN) reported that Binga district had the highest number of malnourished children and school dropouts.
The UN report also declared Binga as the worst drought-hit district in the country.
In the 2016 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report, Binga district was ranked fourth in terms of food insecurity, with 32,8% households reported to be food insecure.
Another beneficiary of the irrigation project, Greshem Sibanda, said: “As a result of this irrigation project, we are guaranteed that we have something to eat all year round. We are even selling some of the produce and we are getting money to pay school fees for our children as well as to buy groceries.”
A fisheries project has also been set up to complement the irrigation project.
Chairperson of the fisheries project, John Kainos Mutare, said besides providing nutritional benefits, the fisheries project is also a source of livelihood for villagers.
“We are now selling the fish that we breed to supermarkets as well as some community members. We then share the proceeds among ourselves. Our lives have changed significantly as a result of this project,” he said.
Binga villagers have also benefited from a goat-rearing project which is aimed at boosting the goat breed in the area.
The FNI project has also assisted villagers from Hwange district, who have set up nutritional gardens, as a way of ensuring food and nutritional security.